Travel hacking is one of the best ways to earn points/miles to earn free (or almost free) flights, hotels, and other travel expenses.
Some people are masters at travel hacking and pay next to nothing to get around the world - all from strategically putting regular spending on specific credit cards.
I've simply been using two cards with sign-up bonuses over the past year, earning me 100,000+ points from the bonuses and regular spending.
I'm not a travel hacking expert so I suggest looking it up online for more information, step by step guides, and the best cards for you!
Basically you want to sign up for a credit card with a big sign-up bonus (30,000-50,000+ points) if you meet the minimum spending requirement.
For example, spend $3,000 in the first three months and then get 50,000 bonus points. (Make sure you'll choose one that you able to pay off!)
But what if you are getting close to the date you need to meet your spend by, but haven't made enough purchases?
You certainly don't want to buy a bunch of random things you don't need for the sake of meeting the sign-up bonus deadline...but then again, the main reason you signed up for the card was because of the sign-up bonus!
Travel Hacking: 5 Tips For Meeting The Minimum Spending Requirement
Also these types of sign up bonuses with credit cards tend to be more for those living in the US, as many US credit cards have such deals.
If you're not from the US skip to the second section of the post! I've got some other tips for ya ;)
Know the exact date you need to spend by. Write it down when you sign up, but if you forget, check the credit card website or call the customer service line.
GIFT CARDS. This is how I recently met my spending bonus - buying gift cards that I could use for everyday purchases.
I had a few hundred dollars remaining so I went to Walgreens and got gift cards to Starbucks, Target, and a Visa gift card.
Getting a Visa or Mastercard gift card is helpful as you can use it for pretty much anything, anywhere.
This allowed me to meet the minimum spending while knowing I wouldn't be wasting my money on random stuff I didn't need!
If you're considering a large purchase, put it on the card.
It sounds kind of obvious, but maybe you've been waiting for the best time to buy something, like plane tickets or a new laptop. As long as you can pay it off, put it on your travel hacking card.
Ask family if they have a big purchase they need and they can pay you back.
Maybe you don't have any big purchases you need to make, but they might!
Put ALL your purchases on the card.
I only use cash or my debit card if I absolutely have to at home. Even $0.75 soap from Target goes on the card to get that sign-up bonus - every little bit counts!
I don't get charged for foreign transaction fees either on my credit cards, so using it versus my debit is a no-brainer. Most travel focused credit cards tend to not have foreign transaction fees.
Sometimes while traveling you'll need to use cash, so keep that in mind. However if you're trying to meet your minimum spending requirement and you can pay it off...put it on the card.
These tips can definitely help you meet that last little bit so you don't miss out on the sign-up bonus!
Getting those bonus points will definitely help give you the boost you need so you can earn free or close-to-free flights.
Now for my non-US friends :) since I know these types of credit cards are pretty specific to the US...
Here are some good websites for finding super cheap flights!
Cool feature: organizes by price and also tells you what the destination's tourist visa requirements are!
Cool features: compares lowest fares from around the world and shows you the comparison at different websites so you know you're getting the best deal. Also, they have an interactive map search option.
Cool feature: once you search for a flight you'll see a graph in the upper-left-hand corner that "forecasts" if the price will increase or decrease as time goes on, so you have a better idea of if you should buy now or wait! They also have an interactive map search option.
Cool feature: this website shows "error fares" for flights around the world (and also non-error but still cheap flights). So if an airline accidentally posts a really low fare - like US to Europe for $400 roundtrip - snatch it up!
Cool feature: rounds up not just low fares for flights around the world, but also has tips and updates for traveling hacking credit cards and sign-up bonuses
Cool feature: You can set up low fare alerts that are specific to your departure city!
A lot of the mentioned websites also have search options for hotels, cruises, etc. as well!
Rome2Rio is another cool website that designs a route for you for any type of transportation: planes, trains, buses, boats, car...walking...!